Welling-up Within

I recall hearing someone say, “pay attention to what makes you cry.” 

Apparently, it’s a good way to understand the passions of your heart as well as your purpose.

So, if this post makes you cry, it’s not my fault (smile). It just may be an indication that the God who created you for his purpose wants you to know the Source of all that makes you well Within.

Thanks in advance for camping out with me a few minutes today. 

This is where I grew up.

This house, situated on the Near West Side of Cleveland, Ohio.

This neighborhood, where I saw the good, the bad and the ugly.

This home, where I became who I am today, and entered into The Greatest Love Story of All.

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And this, is the Catholic Church just around the corner,

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where my siblings and I played endlessly, where my mother and I would find rummage-sale treasures, where my brother married his Italian beauty, and where….

Saturday-after-dreamy-Saturday, I would park my ever-imagining, hope-filled, young heart on the bottom left corner of these steps…

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and dream…

and wonder…

and wait…

first for the limo, that would arrive and park directly in front of these now old and worn steps.

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These steps, where I (all of eight, nine, and ten years young) would learn the art and practice of patience as I sat in anticipation, waiting for   

that gasping moment when double doors would open wide. 

Wide also, were the blue eyes of my young, imaginative, impressionable heart.

Next came the bridesmaids,

Bridesmaides

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then the flower-girl; darling of darlings she was…

taking her turn at innocent wonderings.

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And oh! Those groomsmen; so tall, dark, and handsome they were.Image

Groomsmen

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There, on those worn steps, I curled so as not to be seen,

to watch these handsome beaus take their honored place – as they prepare guests, and hiders, and passersby who honk and join the crowd of those who also well within, with the giving of ceremonial rice.

The anticipation of waiting for the grand-size-double-doors to open was almost too much for my tender heart. 

Would she be pretty?

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Would he be kind?

Would ‘she’ behind closed church doors, I wondered there on those holy 

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steps, be dressed as one belonging to royalty – make him well and gasp for air (the way my sons and sons-in-law did) at first sight of their beloved?

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This I know with a great deal of certainty:

When daughters marry men who love deeply, selflessly, and sacrificially

…mothers sigh,

…and fathers rest easy.

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She, my baby girl, was a thing of priceless beauty that day! 

She always is in my eyes.

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Because a few weeks ago, she said, “I do”

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to him, 

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…so handsome,

…and oozing with speechless joy.

But when he picked her up ever so tenderly and passionately, 

there, on that alter that beautiful October day,

We ALL welled within!

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(Deep breath)

So what is it about a bride; her groom; and the day they sacred wed, that stirs the deepest of the deep within?

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What about you? 

What is it that makes YOU well within?

For me?

It’s when pure, tender love is front and center.

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When life is as it should be.Image 3

When love is celebrated fully.

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Whether that love is celebrated in great joy

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or in great loss.

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Those moments when life is wonderful and hard all at the same time.

When heart, throat, and eyes well-and-swell in harmony.

And, in the poetic words of my mother,

You simply feel as though,

“God leaned over the precipice of heaven and kissed you.”

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And isn’t this exactly what our great God and Father has done in sending us Jesus, his one and only Son!

The Christmas Story… A love story that WE get to live in!

Doesn’t it amaze you? That babe in cradle low?

God Incarnate, Creator of all things, comes to lean down and lay down.

Way down;

Deep down;

into our broken, messy, wonderful lives, and kisses us.

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Right, where we are. Right as we are.

Calling us his Bride. His Beloved.

We are beautiful to Jesus…

because he sees us through eyes of perfect, faithful love, and lavishing forgiveness.

God, our God, who created us in his very image and gave us the freedom to love (or not love) and be loved (or not be loved).

He who knew no sin, came to earth to willingly laid down his life so that you and I could live!

Right there in our mess, He picks us up…and whispers to you, and to me…

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…”I love you more than you can imagine!”

How can we refuse such a Love? Such a Lover? Such a Savior?

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And that my friends, is a love story worth living in!

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This Christmas Season, may you and I well within at the ‘Wonder of His Love’!

God’s love.

Love that came down for us!

Us…the broken and the needy; the poor and the rich.

Us…the lovely and the unlovely; the proud and the weak.

Us… the lost and the lonely; the sick and the sad.

Us… the loved and the unloved; the lovable and the unlovable;

Us…the angry, hurting, addict, perfectionist, people-pleaser, remorseful, guilty, shameful, idolizer, discontented, lustful, abused, abusive, self-centered, self-sufficient, self-serving, self-righteous.

Lords and Lady’s of our own kingdom; the Kingdom of self rather than the Kingdom of God where love, joy, and peace reign and rule the human heart.

Yes, it was we who rejected Jesus and nailed him to a tree.

We…who did whatever seemed right in our own eyes and fixed our eyes on self – saying “no thank you” to His Gift.

But…Oh!

Oh…the hope, and peace, and joy that comes to those who draw near.

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Dear Friend…

Won’t you join me and Prepare Him Room? You will never be the same, because you are loved by Perfect Love.  And one more thing…don’t be afraid to live like it!

Merry Christmas!

Until next time,

Betsy

I would like to give credit to our wonderful photographer, Nate Migel of Imagen Photography.

19 thoughts on “Welling-up Within

  1. Lorinda says:

    Thank you for sharing…I am so happy for your family and am so thankful for our Brad! You raised him well and he enriches the lives of so many. I’m “hoping” that his season of Love is just around the corner…I want to be at that wedding!!!

    Love you to yours this Christmas!!!

    On Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 12:21 PM, betsystretar

    Like

  2. Frank Stretar says:

    And I’m crying. So beautiful mom. This is the gospel!

    Amen and amen. Love you.

    Frank Stretar II Stark County Young Life YLstarkcounty.younglife.org 330.754.8880

    >

    Like

  3. Joan Ticherich says:

    That was truly beautiful Betsy! What a magical gift you have given Hannah and Matt with this loving testimony. Many blessings to you and your family this Christmas season. Joanie

    Like

  4. Ro Fox says:

    Bets, that was so touching. Yes I wept but happy tears. You are a great story teller and I needed it today.
    Luv u my kind, wonderful friend.

    Like

  5. Debi Byrne says:

    Betsy,
    This was very touching. You used the photos for a love story–spoken wordlessly on joyful faces. When you paralleled this romance with the passion God has for us, it brought the entire piece together beautifully. What a gorgeous bride with a dreamlike wedding. Those cowboy boots were adorable. You have the heart of a story teller. Congratulations on your new son-in-law.
    Debi

    Like

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